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Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Jul 1;45(13):5564-71. doi: 10.1021/es200157h. Epub 2011 Jun 1.

Aggregation kinetics of citrate and polyvinylpyrrolidone coated silver nanoparticles in monovalent and divalent electrolyte solutions.

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Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218-2686, United States.


The aggregation kinetics of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) that were coated with two commonly used capping agents-citrate and polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP)--were investigated. Time-resolved dynamic light scattering (DLS) was employed to measure the aggregation kinetics of the AgNPs over a range of monovalent and divalent electrolyte concentrations. The aggregation behavior of citrate-coated AgNPs in NaCl was in excellent agreement with the predictions based on Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory, and the Hamaker constant of citrate-coated AgNPs in aqueous solutions was derived to be 3.7 × 10(-20) J. Divalent electrolytes were more efficient in destabilizing the citrate-coated AgNPs, as indicated by the considerably lower critical coagulation concentrations (2.1 mM CaCl(2) and 2.7 mM MgCl(2) vs 47.6 mM NaCl). The PVP-coated AgNPs were significantly more stable than citrate-coated AgNPs in both NaCl and CaCl(2), which is likely due to steric repulsion imparted by the large, noncharged polymers. The addition of humic acid resulted in the adsorption of the macromolecules on both citrate- and PVP-coated AgNPs. The adsorption of humic acid induced additional electrosteric repulsion that elevated the stability of both nanoparticles in suspensions containing NaCl or low concentrations of CaCl(2). Conversely, enhanced aggregation occurred for both nanoparticles at high CaCl(2) concentrations due to interparticle bridging by humic acid aggregates.

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